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Forsyth constituents air health care concerns to Sen. Johnny Isakson

Several local activists voiced their concerns about the proposed U.S. Senate health care bill to Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson in a constituent meeting Friday morning.

The meeting, which included Forsyth County Democrats Anita Tucker and Daniel Blackman – who both have run for local political positions – and three other locals, came after days of protests in front of Isakson’s office, which is located in Vinings.

“Some of the people who were demonstrating [Thursday] caught him when he was going out to his car,” Tucker said. “He told one of the ladies, ‘I’m here all day [Friday]. Come on by.’

“I [got] on my cell phone right then and made the appointment. It took until late [Thursday] night to get the appointment, but that’s what it took.”

The main focus of Friday’s meeting was the U.S. Senate’s health care bill, which was unveiled June 22 after weeks of work.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill would leave 22 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under Obamacare, about 1 million less than the U.S. House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House in early May.

Tucker and others held a “die-in” on May 8 to protest U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall’s vote in favor of the ACHA.

Woodall represents Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.

In an effort to find common ground with Isakson, the group touched on some of the senator’s beliefs, specifically his pro-life stance – though not necessarily in relation to abortion.

“There is nothing more pro-life than protecting the lives of those who are living,” said Judy Kreps, an activist present at the meeting.

Isakson nodded; “That’s a good point,” he said.

Tucker said though she was pleased that she was able to meet with Isakson, she said she has a “wait-and-see” attitude.

“We’ll have to see if he follows through with what was asked for him to say he opposes about the [health care bill] versus what he agrees with publicly,” she said. “That’ll be what we’ll look for next.”

Isakson told the Forsyth County News Friday’s meeting was an important one.

“They’ve got a story to tell,” he said. “Any time you can put a personal story on an issue, it helps to magnify the issue tremendously, and I was glad to meet with them. I think everybody in there learned something, for all of us.

“My job is listening and has been for 38 years in public life, and I’ll keep on doing it. I’m going back to Washington next week, and I’ll keep on listening.”